Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999. In this agreement, China promised that, under its “one country, two systems” formula, China’s socialist economic system would not be practiced in Macau, and that Macau would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defence affairs for the next 50 years.


Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates: 22 10 N, 113 33 E
Population: 578,025 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15% (male 45,635/female 40,523)

15-64 years: 76.8% (male 205,998/female 233,820)

65 years and over: 8.2% (male 22,043/female 24,984) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Macau Special Administrative Region

conventional short form: Macau

local long form: AomenTebieXingzhengqu (Chinese); RegiaoAdministrativa Especial de Macau (Portuguese)

local short form: Aomen (Chinese); Macau (Portuguese)

Dependency status: special administrative region of China
Government type: limited democracy
Telephones – main lines in use: 167,500 (2010)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.122 million (2010)
Airports: 1 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: no regular military forces
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 150,780 (2010 est.)


Macau’s economy has enjoyed strong growth in recent years on the back of its expanding tourism and gaming sectors. Since opening up its locally-controlled casino industry to foreign competition in 2001, the territory has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment that have helped transform it into the world’s largest gaming center. In 2006, Macau’s gaming revenue surpassed that of the Las Vegas strip, and gaming-related taxes accounted for 75% of total government revenue.


The expanding casino sector, and China’s decision beginning in 2002 to relax travel restrictions, have reenergized Macau’s tourism industry, which saw total visitors grow to 27 million in 2007, up 62% in three years. Macau’s strong economic growth has put pressure its labour market prompting businesses to look abroad to meet their staffing needs. The resulting influx of non-resident workers, who totalled one-fifth of the workforce in 2006, has fuelled tensions among some segments of the population. Macau’s traditional manufacturing industry has been in a slow decline. In 2006, exports of textiles and garments generated only $1.8 billion compared to $6.9 billion in gross gaming receipts.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Macau is a transit and destination territory for women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; most females in Macau’s sizeable sex industry come from the interior regions of China or Mongolia, though a significant number also come from Russia, Eastern Europe, Thailand, and Vietnam; the majority of women in Macau’s prostitution trade appear to have entered Macau and the sex trade voluntarily, though there is evidence that some are deceived or coerced into sexual servitude, often through the use of debt bondage; organized criminal syndicates are reportedly involved in bringing women to Macau, and fear of reprisals from these groups may prevent some women from seeking help

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Macau is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to show evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking since 2004